Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday - My Son's Caterpillars

This is a different sort of Tackle it Tuesday project, I know. For some of my fellow homeschool moms, this will be interesting. For those of you interested in science or nature, this will interest you. For others, this will be ridiculous.

My son, Jonathon (the one going to Mombasa tomorrow), cares for moths and caterpillars. He's an avid insect collector and has some really wonderful collections that he takes to garden clubs, nursing homes, etc. He speaks about biology and ecology to these groups and they keep asking him to come back.

Below is a picture of some baby Hickory Horn Devils for which he needed to make some new larvae sleeves. We think a bear has been trying to get this particular batch because the old sleeves were ripped from the trees. By the way, when raising caterpillars you must make sure that you give them their own particular food supply. Too many people take a couple of caterpillars they find somewhere and place them in a jar with a few leaves they randomly plucked from a tree. Each species eats only certain foods and they will starve to death if not given what they require. These caterpillars eat walnut and hickory leaves - surprise!

Jonathon buys tulle material from the fabric department at the store. Yes, it's the same material you might use for a wedding dress or prom dress.

I helped him cut about 3 1/2 feet lengths of the stuff.

Fold it across lengthwise and sew or staple the long end and one of the short ends so that it is closed tight around those ends and nothing can slip out (or in!) Jonathon staples because he refuses to sew.

Place the caterpillars inside the sleeve and place over a branch of the tree that is the caterpillars' food source - a walnut tree here. Then, tie the open end shut with string.

The caterpillars then can feed in safety from birds and other animals that would prey upon them. (like bears!) Once in a while you should move the sleeve to other branches. This does not kill the tree or harm it. These Hickory Horn Devils will feed and grow and eventually pupate to become moths.

I can't say this was a particularly fun project for me, but I have learned a lot about some of God's tiniest creatures through these sorts of things. Isn't it amazing what your kids will teach you?

By the way, Jonathon brought home a few caterpillars that were about to pupate and placed them in a box with some walnut leaves. Last night one tried to escape. They pupate in the ground, not in a cocoon on a branch as some other moths do. This caterpillar wandered into our hallway looking for a place in which he could burrow and form a pupa. I walked to the bathroom and stepped on it. YUCK!

Find other Tackle it Tuesday projects at 5 Minutes for Mom.


Susie said...

What a neat tackle!

Robyn said...

Fun! Sounds creative!
Mom All Day